Football: FIFA World Cup – Rewind down the memory lane

Happy New Year! It’s 2018. And a year Russia will proudly host the FIFA Football World Cup – the world’s biggest (sporting or non-sporting) extravaganza. The highlight of the year 2018, for sure. Less than five months to go. 148 days from today. Time to start circling your office leave dates! Isn’t it? So as to add to the upcoming ‘football fever‘, I compiled the entire history and key memories (from internet threads) that this monstrous sporting event gave us since its inception.

World Cup Memories

World Cup 1930

Winners Uruguay

Teams 13

Teams in qualifiers N/A

Notable absentees Of the major European countries, only France took part

Surprises USA, who finished third

Golden Boot Guillermo Stábile (Argentina) – 8

Stats A total of 70 goals were scored (3.89 per match); Argentina (18) scored the most

Format One group of four and three groups of three in the qualifying stage, with the top from each group going into the semi-finals

Number of matches 18

World Cup 1934

Winners Italy

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 32

Notable absentees Holders Uruguay, England

Surprises Egypt

Golden Boot Oldrich Nejedlý (Czechoslovakia) – 5

Stats A total of 70 goals were scored (4.12 per match); Italy (12) scored the most

Format Straight knockout, replays for drawn matches

Number of matches 17

World Cup 1938

Winners Italy

Teams 15

Teams in qualifiers 37

Notable absentees Argentina, England, Spain, Uruguay

Surprises Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Cuba

Golden Boot Leônidas (Brazil) – 7

Stats A total of 84 goals were scored (4.67 per match); Hungary (15) scored the most

Format Straight knockout, replays for drawn matches

Number of matches 18

World Cup 1950

Winners Uruguay

Teams 13

Teams in qualifiers 34

Notable absentees France, Germany, Hungary

Surprises Bolivia

Golden Boot Ademir (Brazil) – 9

Stats A total of 88 goals were scored (4.00 per match); Brazil (22) scored the most

Format Four groups, with the winners of each progressing to a four-team round-robin final group. Withdrawals meant there were two groups of four, one of three and one of two

Number of matches 22

World Cup History

World Cup 1954

Winners West Germany

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 45

Notable absentees Spain

Surprises Korean Republic

Golden Boot Sándor Kocsis (Hungary) – 11

Stats A total of 140 goals were scored (5.38 per match); Hungary (27) scored the most

Format Four groups of four with two seeded and two unseeded teams in each group. However, the teams played just two matches per group rather than the usual three, with the seeded sides facing unseeded sides. Where teams ended up tied for the second qualifying position by points, they required a play-off. The two teams finishing at the top of their group went through to the quarter-finals

Number of matches 26

World Cup 1958

Winners Brazil

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 45

Notable absentees Italy, Uruguay

Surprises Wales, Northern Ireland

Golden Boot Just Fontaine (France) – 13

Stats A total of 126 goals were scored (3.60 per match); France (23) scored the most

Format Four groups of four, with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals

Number of matches 35

World Cup 1962

Winners Brazil

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 56

Notable absentees Sweden

Surprises Colombia

Golden Boot Garrincha, Vavá (Brazil), Leonel Sánchez (Chile), Drazan Jerkovic (Yugoslavia), Flórián Albert (Hungary), Valentin Ivanov (USSR) – 4

Stats A total of 89 goals were scored (2.78 per match); Brazil (14) scored the most

Format Four groups of four, with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals

Number of matches 32

World Cup 1966

Winners England

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 70

Notable absentees None

Surprises North Korea

Golden Boot Eusébio (Portugal) – 9

Stats A total of 89 goals were scored (2.78 per match); Portugal (17) scored the most

Format Four groups of four, with the top two progressing to the quarter-finals

Number of matches 32

World Cup 1970

Winners Brazil

Teams16

Teams in qualifiers 75

Number of matches 32

Notable absentees Argentina, France, Portugal, Spain

Surprises Morocco, the first African qualifiers since World War II

Golden Boot Gerd Muller (Germany) – 10

World Cup 1974

Winners West Germany

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 99

Notable absentees England, France, Hungary, Spain, USSR

Surprises Australia, Haiti and Zaire

Golden Boot Grzegorz Lato (Poland) – 7

Stats A total of 97 goals were scored (2.55 per match); Poland (16) scored the most

Format Four groups of four in the qualifying stage, with the top two from each group going into a second round of two four-team groups and the winners facing each other in the final

Number of matches 38

World Cup 1978

Winners Argentina

Teams 16

Teams in qualifiers 107

Notable absentees England, Czechoslovakia, USSR

Surprises Iran, Tunisia

Golden Boot Mario Kempes (Argentina) – 6

Stats A total of 102 goals were scored (2.68 per match); Argentina and Netherlands (15) scored the most

Format Four groups of four in the qualifying stage, with the top two from each group going into the second round of two groups of four, the top side in each progressing into the final

Number of matches 38

World Cup 1982

Winners Italy

Teams 24

Teams in qualifiers 109

Notable absentees the Netherlands, Mexico

Surprises Algeria, Cameroon, Honduras, Kuwait, New Zealand

Golden Boot Paolo Rossi (Italy) – 6

Stats A total of 146 goals were scored (2.81 per match); France (16) scored the most

Format Six groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the second round, where they split into four groups of three. The winners of each group advanced to the semi-finals

Number of matches 52

World Cup 1986

WinnersArgentina

Teams 24

Teams in qualifiers 121

Notable absentees – Netherlands

Surprises – Canada, Iraq

Golden Boot – Gary Lineker (England) – 6

Stats – A total of 132 goals were scored (2.54 per match); Argentina (14) scored the most

Format – Six groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16, plus four best third-place finishers

Number of matches – 52

World Cup 1990

Winners West Germany

Teams 24

Teams in qualifiers 116

Notable absentees Denmark, France, Portugal

Surprises Costa Rica, Republic of Ireland, UAE

Golden Boot Salvatore Schillaci (Italy) – 6

Stats A total of 115 goals were scored (2.21 per match), which was the lowest goals-per-match ratio in World Cup history; West Germany (15) scored the most

Format Six groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16, plus four best third-place finishers

Number of matches 52

World Cup 1994

Winners Brazil

Teams 24

Teams in qualifiers 147

Notable absentees England, France

Surprises Greece, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia

Golden Boot Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), Oleg Salenko (Russia) – 6

Stats A total of 141 goals were scored (2.71 per match); Sweden (15) scored the most

Format Six groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16, plus four best 3rd place finishers

Number of matches 52

World Cup 1998

Winners France

Teams 32

Teams in qualifiers 174

Notable absentees Russia

Surprises Jamaica, Japan, South Africa

Golden Boot Davor Suker (Croatia) – 6

Stats A total of 171 goals were scored (2.67 per match); France (15) scored the most

Format Eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16

Number of matches 64

World Cup 2002

Winners Brazil

Teams – 32

Teams in qualifiers – 199

Notable absentees – Netherlands

Surprises – Senegal, South Korea, Turkey

Golden Boot – Ronaldo (Brazil) – 8

Stats – A total of 161 goals were scored (2.52 per match); Brazil (18) scored the most

Format – Eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16

Number of matches – 64

World Cup 2006

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Winners – Italy

Teams – 32

Teams in qualifiers – 198

Notable Absentees – Cameroon, Nigeria

Surprises – Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago

Golden Boot – Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 5

Stats – A total of 147 goals were scored (2.30 per match); Germany (14) scored the most

Format – Eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16

Number of matches – 64

World Cup 2010


Winners – Spain

Teams – 32

Teams in qualifiers – 204

Notable Absentees – Croatia, Russia, Poland, Turkey, Sweden

Surprises – Slovakia, Honduras, New Zealand, Algeria

Golden Boot – Thomas Muller (Germany) – 5 goals and 3 assists. David Villa, Diego Forlan and Wesley Sneijder also had 5 goals each.

Stats – A total of 145 goals were scored (2.27 per match); Germany (16) scored the most

Format – Eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16

Number of matches – 64

World Cup 2014


Winners – Germany

Teams – 32

Teams in qualifiers – 204

Notable Absentees – Ukraine

Surprises – Australia, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Golden Boot – James Rodriguez (Colombia) – 6

Stats – A total of 171 goals were scored (2.67 per match); Germany (18) scored the most, yet again.

Format – Eight groups of four, with the top two teams in each group advancing to a knockout round of 16

Number of matches – 64

So who do you think will win the World Cup 2018 edition?

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